Egypt’s Government is considering new social media curbs. If approved, users in the country would have to register with the Government to access social media sites including Twitter and Facebook. If their registration was successful they would receive a login which would be linked to their national ID. Unauthorised use of social media could result in violators being jailed and fined.
The UAE’s Emirates Authority for Standardisation & Metrology has approved new regulations on the commercial and recreational use of drones in the country, including the free zones. The new rules include a surveillance system for detecting unmanned aerial vehicles in the country. The regulations are aimed at establishing a central system to monitor any drone activity in the UAE. Manufacturers will have to use a mandatory serial number. The regulations have been developed with the General Civil Aviation Administration, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, Federal Customs Authority, Interior Ministry and Dubai Police General Command.
Bahrain’s Labour Market Regulatory Authority has announced it will start issuing two types of flexible work permits for expatriates. 2000 flexi-work permits and hospitality work permits will be issued monthly. They will both be valid for two years. The hospitality work permits will be for those working in restaurants, hotels, salons and other professions requiring special medical tests. Those who obtain the flexi-work permits will be issued with a special card featuring the worker’s photo, data, type of permit and its validity period.
The KSA is preparing a new system to enable employees to reduce work hours and salaries for a limited time
Saudi Arabian Labour and Social Development Ministry sources have said the Ministry is preparing a new system to enable employees to reduce work hours and salaries for a limited time under the Job Share Programme. The aim is to avoid Saudi nationals being dismissed when business is slow. To be able to benefit from the programme, employees should be Saudi nationals who work full-time and have done so for at least three months. Participation will be optional. Work hours and pay should not be reduced by more than 50% and an employee’s salary should not be less than 3000 Riyals after the work hours and pay have been reduced. Employees must not join the programme for more than six months at a time. Businesses should not dismiss employees participating in the programme and should allow employees to work in any other business outside their work hours.
UAE: Non-Muslim expatriates will be able to dictate where they want their assets to go when they die
Following a Decision changing the rules governing wills in Abu Dhabi, non-Muslim expatriates will be able to dictate where they want their assets to go when they die. Under the changes, there will be no dispute over a deceased’s possessions and the custody of children. Expatriates will be able to register a will for approximately 500 AED and wills be registered in English rather than Arabic.
The UAE’s Health Minister has issued a Ministerial Decision on declaring death. Ministerial Decision No. 550/2017 covers death resulting from cardiac-respiratory arrest, death from complete loss of brain functions and pediatric brain death guidelines. It was introduced after a national committee made up of all local health authorities prepared the latest Decision together with the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments. There was considered to be an urgent need to enact legislation on the declaration of death to protect hospitals and enable doctors to stop the suffering of brain-dead patients. The Decision aims to reinforce Federal Decree-Law No. 5/2016 and Federal Decree-Law No. 4/2016. It differentiates between declarations of death resulting from cardio-respiratory arrest and death resulting from complete loss of brain functions. This is intended to be a guide for hospitals, especially for those with intensive care units. Brain death is defined as an irreversible cessation of all functions of all parts of the brain. The conditions and exceptions for the declaration of brain death, including proper diagnosis through clinical preliminary examination are laid out.
This week the spotlight is on tax developments in the GCC, where following its ratification by the UAE and in line with the procedural requirements, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries’ agreement on VAT and selective taxes is now in force. The General Secretariat of the GCC has received the UAE's ratification documents for the two agreements. The two agreements come into effect when the second GCC country submits its ratification documents to the secretariat.
Elsewhere, following its first meeting, the UAE’s Federal Tax Authority has announced a 100% selective tax on tobacco and energy drinks and a 50% tax on soft drinks will be introduced by December 2017. The Finance Minister, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has also said the Tax Procedures Law will be issued and published soon. Meanwhile, the VAT Law is currently being debated by the technical legislative committee and will then be submitted to the Cabinet. The Selective Tax Law will then be discussed by the committee.
The Manager of Saudi Arabia’s VAT Project, Hammoud Alharby has confirmed companies suffering financial losses will not be exempted from VAT and sectors which generate more than 375,000 Riyals will have to register for the tax. Registration will be optional for sectors generating up to 185,000 Riyals. Alharby confirmed the draft VAT law will be issued in the next fortnight. Its provisions will come into force in January 2018. The penalties are expected to include paying half of the value of the tax due in addition to the tax payment if the business fails to register or if a mistake is made in the tax return.
This week the spotlight is on legal and regulatory developments in Oman, where the Deputy Chairman of Oman’s Shoura Council, Mohammed Al Ghassani has suggested Oman is considering plans to allow foreigners to buy property outside of integrated tourism complexes if they meet certain conditions. The aim would be to boost the housing market and the economy.
Elsewhere, the country’s Telecom Regulatory Authority will announce a third mobile operator in September following an invitation to tender last year. Omantel and Ooredoo are currently the two Mobile Network Operators in the country and Renna and Friendi are the two Mobile Virtual Network Operators. It is expected to be in the first week of September and all the proposals are currently being reviewed. The aim is to increase competition in the Sultanate’s telecommunications sector.
Egypt's Parliament has approved the country’s new Investment Law. It will now be referred to the President for further consideration. Under the law, there will be tax exemptions of up to 50% for investors in the country's poorest regions and other incentives in sectors like electricity and renewable energy. It will also provide a service centre for investors which will be aimed at being a one-stop shop. Authorities will have 60 days to provide investors with all of the necessary authorisations.